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Court: Bear researcher cannot use radio collars, but den cameras can return

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A court decision will allow Lynn Rogers to return his webcams to the dens of black bears he's studying in northeastern Minnesota. But his monitoring of the animals will not extend to the use of radio collars to track their movements.

In a setback for the controversial bear researcher, who has appeared in a number of a television nature programs, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Rogers cannot attach satellite tracking collars to the animals, the Star Tribune reports.

Monday's ruling is the latest chapter in a years-long dispute with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who in 2013 withdrew a longstanding permit that had allowed Rogers to affix the devices to the animals.

There were concerns that Rogers' close contact with the bears (photos showed him hand-feeding them) made them too familiar with humans as a source of food, creating a potential danger to the public.

But the researcher disagreed that his methods were harmful, and he appealed the DNR's decision, the Pioneer Press reports.

The appeals court sided with the DNR, though, ruling that collaring and feeding bears in a manner such as that exhibited by Rogers is essentially "possessing" a bear, illegal in Minnesota without a permit, MPR News explains.

While finding the bears' dens won't be as easy without the radio collars, Rogers, according to MPR, says he knows where plenty of their caves are and will install his "Live Cameras" in them this fall.

While reportedly pleased at the court's decision to uphold his freedom to place the devices in the dens, the researcher is considering whether to reapply for a permit – or appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Star Tribune notes.

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